The melding of fashion and law seemed like an odd concept in the past, as evidenced by Elle and her hot pink suits in Legally Blonde. With concerns about counterfeiting, the new intellectual property bill in Congress, and the complex nature of the fashion business, designers need legal support more than ever now.
Stilettos and staid suits met quite literally today as Fordham Law School in NYC launched the Fashion Law Institute yesterday. The CFDA donated $100,000 to the Institute and CFDA president/fairy godmother, Diane von Furstenberg, matched that with a donation of her own. The Institute anticipates that it will need about $1 million its first year.
First, I have to be superficial and mention that the logo for the new Institute is especially clever: A spool of thread and needle made to look like a gavel. Whoever designed it deserves a bonus. Or at least free future legal representation.
Second, DvF is quite hilarious with a dry comic delivery. After acknowledging the work of professor Susan Scafidi, the director of the Fashion Law Institute, she told a story about how Susan wore one of her dresses to a meeting. DvF noted that she had changed the buttons to “nicer ones.” Plus Susan “understands fashion well, which is rare for a lawyer,” she said. Yes. (I saw a lot of poorly fitting, knee length, pinstriped suits in the audience.)
Finally, and most importantly, the Fashion Law Institute is offering some original services to designers and attorneys alike. For designers, they are providing a centralized resource for pro bono legal assistance, educational forums, and a source of information and research. For attorneys, students, and the community, there are degree and non-degree courses, an annual symposium, and public seminars for design and legal professionals.
The executive director of the CFDA, Steven Kolb, acknowledged that they have already helped several young designers trademark their names.
So if you’re a new designer or a budding attorney with an interest in fashion, take a look at Fordham Law School.
The defense rests. Related: Fashion Law at Fordham